Analysis, News

Mason Plumlee On His Way Out?

It has been reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein that the Brooklyn Nets have started taking trade offers for big man Mason Plumlee.

The Nets had high expectations for Plumlee coming into the season after making the All Rookie First team and a selection to Team USA squad last summer. His selection was a surprise, but Plumlee showed signs of what he could do in limited minutes. His stock couldn’t have been higher than it was at the beginning of the season.

Under Lionel Hollins Plumlee struggled to find a place in the rotation. The Nets big man only averaged 8.7 points and 6.2 rebounds, which were improvements. But his field goal percentage dipped from 66% to 57% and he struggled to fit next to Brook Lopez on either end of the floor.

Lopez has a player option going into this summer which could add uncertainty as to his future with the Nets. If he does re-sign with the team there’s a question of whether or not Mason Plumlee could reach his full potential. His struggles next to Lopez have been well documented. The pair were not compatible. It would be best for both players if they were separated to different teams so they could shine without bringing the other down.

Plumlee still has room to grow and I think he has potential to be a top-10 center in the NBA. He can finish around the rim, is a smart defensive player and can jump out of the gym. Plumlee was at his best in the month of January when he averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block per game. The Duke product was showing what he could be when he’s given consistent playing time in a good situation and not sandwiched between Brook Lopez and Thad Young.

The Nets could look to package Plumlee and the 29th pick together in a trade. Doing this could mean moving up or out of the draft. Moving up in the draft would mean acquiring young talent that Lionel Hollins could develop for the future. Unfortunately, Brooklyn’s definition of the future doesn’t involve anything passed next season. Moving out of the draft to acquire a veteran would fit the Nets’ “win-now” approach that Billy King is perpetually stuck in. It’s an option, but not the one I think the Nets should pursue. The team is already old and cap strapped so getting older seems like a poor direction to take.

The most optimal situation has to be something the Nets were unwilling to do only a few months ago. It was reported mid season that the Sacramento Kings were interested in acquiring point guard Deron Williams, but the deal fell apart because the Kings were asking for Mason Plumlee. Now it looks like packaging Plumlee with aging stars Deron Williams and Joe Johnson would be key to opening up some desperately needed cap space going forward. 

I think the best option for the Nets would be to move up in the draft if they can. But if the opportunity to shed some cap arises I wouldn’t be shocked to see Billy King jump at it.